Several months ago this website posted a pole just prior to Cox Communications pulling out of Gloucester. The majority of the line in place are the original line that were run when cable television was provided by Gloucester Cablevision at Summerville Plantation. We have iffy cellphone service especially at the upper end of the county and the internet is non existent. What was the purpose of the survey the county asked of its citizens if the board of supervisors doe not take action? We as the citizen of the county not only expect more from our elected officials but we demand it. We drop money around this county like it grows on trees and vote for budgets even after potions of the budget was approved by other portions of the county. We the people expect more and demand more. Remember we put you into to the office to support the needs of the people. We do not serve you.
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During the March 1st Board of Supervisors meeting, a year long discussion about converting County administration from a calendar year to a fiscal year resumed. The County Administrator suggested that proceeding with the conversion was not possible at this time, primarily due to objections from the Commissioner of Revenue and the Treasurer (Both elected by the People of Gloucester and not present at the meeting). I will not speak to the efficacy of the calendar conversion, but will instead address something far more important; our elected leaders working as a team.
For the last several years we have noticed that all of our Constitutional Officers, except the Commissioner of Revenue, have appeared at public meetings when asked to do so or when there was a discussion that directly involves their responsibilities. Each time the Commissioner has not appeared when expected, the excuse of being too busy with one thing or another has been given on his behalf by County staff. We are not sure if the Commissioner of Revenue and the Treasurer were asked to be at the March 1st meeting, but we do feel they should have been there. After the meeting we were not only left with an unclear impression that it was their objections that led the County Administrator to report the conversion not being possible at this time; we were also left confused and aggravated by our elected leaders not working together as a team.
What many of us do not feel some of our Constitutional Officers get is; We the People of Gloucester elected a team. We elected a School Board, Board of Supervisors, Treasurer, Commissioner, Court Clerk, and Sheriff. We elected each of you to act on our behalf and to work as a team in doing so. We certainly did not intend for any of you to use your elected status to operate independently or collectively in the shadows. We the People want to be informed and we want each Constitutional Officer to be completely open and honest with us and with each other. When County staff, other Constitutional Officers or the People ask to see the County Checkbook and other documents, we expect them to be provided. When the Board of Supervisors asks Constitutional Officers to appear or there is a public meeting topic that directly relates to their responsibilities; we want to see and hear from them.
We now challenge the Commissioner of Revenue and the Treasurer to appear at the next Board of Supervisors meeting to provide the Board and the People clarity and to publicly answer whatever questions the Board may have. We also challenge, all of our local Constitutional Officers to begin working together, like We the People intended when we elected each of you.
The Gloucester Board of Supervisors, School Board, Economic Development Authority and others are currently considering what to do with our school bus garage and old Page Middle School properties. It has been rumored that selling all or a portion of the properties are the top options being considered, but considering our substantial infrastructure needs, any option to sell the properties does not seem to be in the best interest of managing our assets or taking care of our employees.
For several years our Public Utilities and Public Works Departments have desperately needed us to provide a place where each department can consolidate operations, where they can store and maintain several million dollars worth of vehicles, equipment and materials and where they can provide our employees with a respectable and safe place to work. Likewise, our school system’s transportation facility has also needed similar attention for a very long time. Over the years our elected leaders have acknowledged these infrastructure needs, but practically nothing has been done to fulfill them. Our ownership of the old Page and bus garage properties presents us with a unique opportunity to not only fulfill some very serious capital needs; it also provides us the best possible opportunity to consolidate certain county and school system functions. Such consolidations will reduce our construction and operations costs and will enhance the overall functionality of the departments involved.
Our current school bus garage can be renovated and expanded for a lot less money than new property acquisition and construction. We should upgrade and expand our bus garage to facilitate consolidation of all of our school system and county transportation functions under one Fleet Director employed by the school system. We should move all Public Utilities, Public Works and Buildings and Grounds functions to the old Page properties. A single story strip mall type office building should be built along the front portion of the property to provide administration and customer service space. The area behind the administration space should contain each department’s relevant work and storage buildings and areas. We should consolidate all of our school system and county Public Works and Buildings and Grounds functions under one director that is employed by the county. Future growth in the old Page and bus garage area will likely present a need for us to construct a fire and rescue facility, therefore the construction of such a facility should be included in our future plans for the properties.
Our Utilities Department currently has money in hand to purchase property and construct a new yard and office. Instead of buying new property, we should use that money to begin the consolidation process on the old Page properties. Once Utilities has relocated there, we can sell their old yard and County Office Building 4 to help fund more of the consolidation project. At some point during the consolidation process we will also be able to sell the Birkhofer Building and the Building and Grounds Shop to help fund the project. We need to look for a creative way to fund the renovation and expansion of the bus garage, but once that construction is complete we can sell the County Garage at Providence Road to generate additional revenue.
Have Forensic Audits conducted on all County, EDA, Public Utilities, School System and School Activities Fund finances as far back in time as allowed by law.
Rush hour traffic coming down from Edge Hill, down past the Main Street Center shopping area is going much faster than the posted 35 mph. This is a safety hazard and should be monitored and restored to the posted speed limit.
14W at Ware Academy posted speed limit is 55, coming up over the rise down past Crab Thicket road has become a race to main street. Speeds in excess of 55 are common. Posting to 45 mph may alleviate the need for a stop light in the future. Crossing the road to make left turns to the 14E to Mathews lane are almost impossible at peak hours. Drivers use the turn onto 14E as a take off ramp disregarding any possibility of traffic coming out of the Movie house and bowling center parking area. Increasing speeds to 65 or 70 rather and 55 seems to be the rule of thumb for drivers in this area.
I called the County a few months ago about disposing of some stale gas I had. I called the Clean Community phone number listed. I was told perhaps I could burn the gas to get rid of it?! I commented that was unsafe, and then the representative stated that I was correct. Other localities have chemical collection more often. When renegotiating the contract, please have more chemical collections available. Thank you!
For trash sites a hard plastc rearview mirror type card to use at the trash convience sites. This way if my nephew volunteers to take the garbage in his truck he can. Then the next weekend I have friends that are borrowing our home on the water, they can dispose of the trash. Then I let someone rent out (not lease) for a month they have the placard to use. Charge $5.00 for every card you want. I own the home in Gloucester, pay property taxes but have friends and relatives that enjoy Gloucester and don't want to leave their trash for me to take to the dump next time I get there.
Broad Band may be a reasonable alternative to Cox. For 19-years we have been told the data failures for Netflix and the internet were due to compatibility issues with our equipment (note: TV signal and internet data are two different signals). As I had more money than brains, I purchased three DVDs (for Netflix), four+ HDMI cables, three TVs (one just for testing the Cox input cable), two amps for my surround sound, and a plethora of other equipment - at the instruction of the customer service representatives. After talking with the area supervisor, Mr Sherbet, we find that the internet is dropped approx 8-times a day before it reaches my TV - and then automatically corrects itself. Now I don't mind paying a premium price ($185/month and we have NO pay for view channels) for a premium service, but we're not getting that premium service. For those of you who have called Cox and been told that the issues are on your side, it remains an unethical position as the problems are not on the private side and many customers like myself have wasted time and money following Cox's instructions. On the plus side, when Cox works - it works great! On the other hand, my second attempt to complete the Hampton Roads highway survey on the Gloucester web site had been dropped twice before completion (and as it is very time consuming, I'll not try again). I wrote letters to the Cox main office twice and NEVER even had the courtesy of an answer. I believe a cost effective alternative for Gloucester would be a good choice as Cox has become too comfortable and is no longer customer oriented.
In the early 1990’s Gloucester’s elected leaders and paid staff made the decision to open a landfill that would receive trash from numerous localities including some in other states. Those leaders and staff made a deal with Waste Management of Virginia to allow them to operate the new landfill for 20 years under a self extending contract based on the landfill’s remaining capacity. At that time Gloucester taxpayers completely funded the ever rising costs to operate the old county landfill, so the picture painted for the taxpayers back then and even today is one of not having to raise taxes to fund trash disposal. Such service does have significant value to the taxpayers, but the questions is; did the leaders and staff back then make a good deal? Information on contracts of similar landfill operations in neighboring communities obtained under FOIA suggests a very poor deal was made on behalf of Gloucester taxpayers. The following are just a few examples of how bad the deal is.
Gloucester’s deal included monthly payments to the County of $.50 per ton for all waste received from outside of Gloucester. That rate has grown to a whopping $.83 in 23 years. Other Counties are getting $2.00 to $10.00 per ton. Gloucester receives no royalties from electricity generated by the abundantly growing and long term supply of methane gas produced from trash decomposition. Other neighboring Counties are getting a royalty of 10% of all gross profits from the sale of such electricity. Other Counties are getting 25% of net profits derived from recycling. Gloucester gets nothing. The loss to Gloucester taxpayers in these areas annually is likely over a million dollars.
Currently some of our elected leaders and paid staff assert that Gloucester’s benefit from the landfill deal comes from the trash convenience centers and being able to dispose of trash for free. They claim any increase in tonnage fees and such being paid to the County will result in Gloucester residents paying for trash disposal. This does not appear to stand up under scrutiny, as the other counties that made better deals have as many or more convenience centers and are also able to dispose of trash for free. Again, these are just a few examples of how bad Gloucester’s landfill deal is. Our elected leaders should seriously consider bringing Waste Management back to the negotiation table and work out a better deal. Increased revenue from the landfill could be used to build a couple of new libraries so the County stops wasting over a quarter million dollars every year to rent two libraries. There are many things that can be accomplished with increased revenue from the landfill and savings derived from owning our own libraries instead of leasing them.